Traveling Internationally: Top 10 Safety Tips for You and Your Home

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It’s that time of year: Vacation time!  Where’s Your Amazing Place?

How many of you love traveling? At Amazing Spaces, each employee outlines what is their “Amazing Place”.  You can see canvases of different team member’s Amazing Places throughout each of our properties. We add on to our list of “Amazing Places” each time we open up a new store.

My husband and I love going on adventures. Our biggest adventure to date was our honeymoon to Thailand. I wasn’t sure how I was going to survive going somewhere so different from the United States. However, as I researched the fascinating country of Thailand, I grew both anxious and excited. Anxious because I read the travel warnings. Oh yes, I POURED over the travel warnings for Thailand. I would come home and show my husband various news articles, often saying “See! See this! It’s around the same area of where we’re going, I think we should reconsider”, only to have him retort “we’re closer to more danger in our home of Houston than Phuket is to that area of the world”. Fifteen days and sixty hours on a plane later, we made it back home and I realized how BIG and small the world really is.  When traveling internationally, you must educate yourself on the best ways to ensure safety and security. This goes for you and your travel group, as well as your home that you’re leaving behind. That’s why, in honor of #TravelTuesday, I wanted to lay out what I consider to be the most important travel safety tips.

Safety For You

1. Stay on top of alerts and warnings from the United States Government

I mentioned that I frequented the travel warnings forms for Thailand frequently before our honeymoon.  I think one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to be have a full understanding of what’s going on in the region you’re traveling, including health, security, and political issues.  You need to know what to expect, especially if you need any special visas or vaccinations.  Another important piece of advise? Realize that NOT all travel warnings are created equal.  While researching this blog, I found an awesome article that outlines important issues that come along with travel warnings. I highly recommend you check it out. 2. Learn about the country you’re going to visit

2. Learn about the country you’re going to visit

Become familiar with local laws and customs as to not offend your host community.  Before going to Thailand, I knew that we should not speak about the King.  Basically, everything I read said to avoid speaking about him at all costs. And let me tell you, there were some interesting things that came about to people who ignored that rule.  For your safety and for the respect of the culture you’re going to visit: DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Check out TripAdvisor forums. They’ll tell you about the “dos and don’ts”.  You’ll also come across inforamtion about common local scams. For example, I learned that I should NEVER accept a “tour of the city” or restaurant tips from a cab driver in Thailand. Scam, scam, SCAM.  While you’re doing your research, it’s also a good idea to keep track of the local emergency numbers, such as the US consulate or embassy (find a list here), local police and fire stations,  hospital or medical center near where you’re staying, an HONEST local cab company

3. If you’re bring electronics, bring “clean” versions that do not have any important personal information

This is something I WISH I would have done before visiting Portugal. I was young, I stayed in a hostel with friends, and unfortunately my Ipod Touch was stolen.  It had pictures of me, my cats and access to my Apple account. Fortunately it didn’t have much more than that. Our phones are our lives anymore. Make sure yours will be secure if it gets stolen.  Enable your phone to be wiped remotely. Or buy an international version for just traveling.  Another electronics tip? Consider ALL wi-fi to be insecure – don’t go looking at your back unless you want to risk getting hacked.

4. Give a copy of your passport, itinerary, and important phone numbers with a family member, friend, or co-worker so they can quickly access the information and get it to you in the event your passport or other valuables are stolen.

My parents always have a copy of our items whenever we travel.  When we go to Cabo in the winter, I’m planning on leaving a copy of these items with the individuals who will watch my fur-kittens-babies.

5. Avoid being flashy, keep a low profile, and separate your money

These are general tips for whenever you’re traveling. Don’t keep all your money in one place. Don’t wear the fanciest clothing unless you want to be targeted. True story — my mom was looking at her digital camera while waiting for the metro in Barcelona. I kid you not, my dad was then targeted for pick-pocketed. He was smart and kept his hand on his front pocket wallet (tip – if you’re going to Barcelona, buy a wallet to fit in your front pocket). Luckily, he managed to avoid getting pick-pocketed, but the whole reason we were targeted was because my mom showed off her flashy camera. Be smart. Keep a low profile and don’t get flashy in front of people.

Safety For Your Home

1. Try to create the illusion of someone is at home:

Home is where the heart and your items are.  Make sure to make it appear like you’re still there in order to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb. Hold your mail and have your packages delivered to your Amazing Spaces unit. Put the lights on your house on a timer. Don’t make your lawn look too spruced up – if you normally have lawn ornaments or toys on it, keep them there! Finally, if you can, ask a neighbor or friend to keep your lawn trimmed.

2. Protect your home from natural disasters

It’s highly likely that your home could encounter a power surge while you’re away.  Protect your electronics by unplugging them. Items to unplug: your TV, computer, and even smaller items like toasters.  Make sure to alert your alarm company that you will be out of town. Also, give a trusted neighbor your contact information in case a natural disaster hits your home.

3. Make sure to lock everything from windows to garages

Most people forget about the garage. Thieves can find quite a few hot ticket items in there, so be sure to lock it up!

4. Don’t tip off criminals on the web, your voicemail, or other public places

“Hello, you’ve reached the home of Jill and Barry. We can’t answer the phone because we’ll be in MAUI the next four weeks! Leave a message!”. Need I say more?  This goes for Facebook, too folks – if you HAVE to post, make sure you have a highly secured profile!

5. Consider investing in alarm system

Alarm companies can monitor your home and give you piece of mind while you’re away.  And don’t worry about your items at your Amazing Spaces’ unit — all of our properties are monitored by a 3rd party security company.

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